17 Sep 2008

Australian men travelling to PNG warned to be wary of HIV/AIDS

2:10 pm on 17 September 2008

Australian health specialists are alarmed after a cluster of Australian businessmen contracted HIV/AIDS while on worktrips to Papua New Guinea.

PNG has the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the Pacific, with some estimates saying up to two hundred thousand people are infected.

The director of the Cairns Sexual Health Service in Queensland, Dr Darren Russell, has issued a blunt warning to Australians travelling there.

"Over the last year we've diagnosed HIV in six businessmen, who traveled between Cairns and Papua New Guinea, primarily for business, but also for some leisure and we're a bit concerned that this could be start of a trend and there could in fact be other men who're out there who haven't been diagnosed. The message is: if you're going abroad, take condoms with you and use them."

Darren Russell says it's a new phenomenon and they must work out how to best reach these men.